Social media marketing can present organizations with many challenges. However, the secret to making the most of online networks may be seen in the way businesses manage to deliver content to their audience.
It's almost intuitive to merge social media and content marketing, but it's not as simple as posting blog articles to LinkedIn and letting them sit there waiting for readers to come along. Like any good marketing strategy, companies need to understand how to best utilize content to engage buyers and inspire action.
What types of content should brands think about for social posts?
Not all kinds of online marketing collateral are suited for the various social networks that exist. That being said, there are a number of ways that companies can more effectively target buyers using their content. This is accomplished by looking at the options that a company has to hit buyers hard. Here are a few kinds of posts that can address the needs of potential customers at multiple points in the buying lifecycle:
- Answer What? Why? And How?
While these can be three different types of posts (1), the use of the five question words often used to analyze a narrative is an effective way to present a clear case to buyers on social sites. Although how-to articles aren't exactly new as a content marketing category, they're very efficient pieces that get to the heart of problem and propose a solution in a very clear and logical step-by-step process.
Going further, what articles help present buyers with a depth of information about a specific topic. The framework can be a compare-and-contrast structure to lend support to the argument. Why posts are focus in on the reasoning behind particular conclusion. Data and statistics can be useful for helping to support any assertions, especially in the form of data visualizations.
- List articles
As readers of BuzzFeed can attest, there's often something irresistible about clicking on an article that begins with "10 reasons…" and looks at an issue in a highly organized manner. These are easy to follow and tend to inspire readers to share them. In fact, this type of article average roughly 21,000 shares per month with a 2.5 percent variation, which is the lowest of all article types (2).
- Visual storytelling
One of the biggest trends of digital marketing is the use of visuals to tell a story instead of relying solely on text. By using videos, marketers can explain an issue with greater ease, especially with highly technical topics. In a brief amount of time, buyers can get a sense of how a product or service works in a given context, which helps them to make better purchasing decisions.
To every season, content popularity turns
In terms of response rates among buyers on social channels, there can be wide variation in sharing based on the month content is posted. For instance, in the education industry, video shares jumped from around 1,000 shares in July to more than 4,000 shares in August. In the following month, the number fluctuated further, hitting more than 6,000 shares. There are similar patterns of volatility in other industries, but each one follows its own trend.
Getting the pieces to fit together
While not single strategy will fit every organization, there are certain steps that companies should take to prepare their social marketing strategy.
- Know where to post
Before publishing content on every single available social network, it's critical for a business to do necessary research into which platforms are more likely to be places where B2B buyers connect with colleagues and brands (3). Not only should a company discover the popular social networks, but it's also a good idea to understand why users go there to interact.
- Leverage influencers
In addition, social networks are ideal places for companies to establish relationships with other industry experts who are interested in and posting about similar issues. These influencers often have large reservoirs of followers who look to them for insight into problems and possible solutions. Engaging these individuals in a discussion in a forum on LinkedIn, for instance, can help build traction with a specific audience because influencers' opinions can help legitimate a company's position within a given industry.
- Provide incentive
Building off of the momentum of posting content in the right location and at the best times, it's advisable for brands to provide motivation for users to share content. One way of going about this is using other forms of content marketing, such as access to an exclusive white paper, as a reward for sharing. Not only does this help to expand the reach of the original post, but also engages the prospect with further information about the company's products or services.
Social networks are multipurpose tools for brands that want to engage a buying audience, generate leads and help build up a sales pipeline.